Common Ground-Dove

Look For

The common ground-dove is the smallest of our commonly encountered dove species with a length of only 6 ½ inches. It has a sandy-tan back, wings speckled with black, and a paler breast, head, and neck—scaled with white. The ground-dove’s plumage is ideal for camouflage. When disturbed or scared, the ground-dove will burst into the air, fluttering its wings loudly and ducking for cover elsewhere. In flight, the most identifiable field marks are large rufous patches in its rounded wings and a stubby black tail. But up close, this dove has red eyes and a pinkish bill tipped in black.

Listen For

The common ground-dove’s call is a rising woot-woot-woot repeated on the same note in a series.

Find It

You can find this bird in open brushy areas, farmlands, orchards, pinewoods, savannas, and weedy roadsides across the southeastern United States. They like these weedy but open areas so they have a place to flee to if a predator approaches or danger threatens. Look for them on the ground, bobbing along quietly, pecking at weed seeds. When they are not foraging for food on the ground, you will find them roosting in trees, resting while they digest food. Ground-doves are also quick to occupy disturbed, burned, mowed, or logged areas where weeds produce large seed crops.

Feed It

Common ground-doves like open, weedy ground and brush habitat. They can be attracted by allowing a portion of your property to become naturally “messy” or by scattering mixed seed, cracked corn, millet, milo, and other seeds along the ground within a few yards of thick cover. And of course, like all doves, the common ground-dove will patronize a source of clean water like a birdbath, especially those that are at or near ground level.

Nesting

Common ground-doves will not be receiving any awards for their nests’ architecture. Their nests can be shallow depressions on the ground lined with grasses or a flimsy platform of sticks placed low in a thicket or vine tangle. One to three eggs are laid and incubated for about two weeks. Hatchlings remain in the nest for 10 to 13 days before fledging. Common ground-doves may produce multiple broods in a year.

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  • Sally M Peabody

    I have found what I believe to be a ground dove in Clearwater, Fl. He has hurt his wing and can not fly. I just brought him in to keep him safe. Will his wing heal on it’s own ? He drank some water out of a small bottle top but I am not sure he will eat on his own in captivity. The bird is very calm and does not appear to be in pain. Please advice me on what is the best thing for me to do. I have had many pet birds but just parakeets and parrots. I want him to mend so he can go back to his home here. i know they mate for life but he was alone and night was falling so I brought him in. Thank you

    • Dawn Hewitt

      Hi Sally,
      Without examination, it is impossible to know whether the dove will heal on its own with time, or needs veterinary assistance. An internet search revealed several wildlife rehabbers in the Clearwater area:
      Wildlife Rescue & Rehab in Seminole, (727) 399-1525; Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores, (727) 391-6211; and Wildlife Haven Rehab in Odessa, (813) 792-8511. I encourage you to call the closest one and ask if they can help with a ground dove. Technically, it is illegal for you to possess this bird (or any wild bird). I know you’re helping it, but its chances of survival improve if it is in the hands of a trained rehabber. Good luck to it, and thank you for taking care of it. Dawn Hewitt, Bird Watcher’s Digest

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